By McGill Reporter Staff
McGill will conduct research on the concept of adopting a shared-space model that could pave the way to allow cycling on the downtown campus under certain conditions, after the senior administration accepted the recommendations put forward by a Working Group tasked with addressing the question of cycling on campus.
For the time being, the University’s dismount policy remains in effect; cyclists are asked to dismount at the Milton and Roddick gates before walking their bikes on campus. McTavish Street, which is currently the site of a major water main and sewer project by the City of Montreal, is a City-regulated pedestrian space, where cycling is not permitted according to rules established by the City.
The 17-member Working Group, which was launched last fall following comments in the community about gates installed last August at the Milton entrance in an effort to enforce the dismount policy, was asked to address two questions:
1. Should McGill allow cycling on its lower campus?
2. What risk-mitigation measures should be taken to ensure that pedestrian safety is not compromised by cyclist activity?
Members of the Working Group were selected to represent a broad range of perspectives from across the McGill community. Additionally, key experts and representatives of groups likely to be affected by any policy change were consulted during the Group’s deliberations, which lasted into the spring of 2014.
The Group’s final report contains a number of recommendations, including the suggestion that McGill should adopt, on a pilot basis, a “shared space” model that would allow cyclists and pedestrians to comingle, while implementing a number of measures to enhance pedestrian safety. Such measures include widespread communication campaigns, ways to reduce the speed of bicycles and finding ways to also reduce the number of cyclists who are simply “cutting through” the campus rather than having the University as their destination.
“Although it seems counterintuitive, the shared space model has proven effective in a number of locations where it has resulted in lower vehicle speeds and lower accident rates,” said Professor Kevin Manaugh, of the Geography Department and School of the Environment, who was a member of the Working Group.
But before such a pilot project can be implemented, the Group concluded more study and research ought to be done. The senior administration agreed, putting on hold any change in cycling policy and urging not only proceeding with the research proposals presented by the Working Group, but also that a study of the views of the downtown campus community be conducted.
“We need to know more,” said Robert Couvrette, Associate Vice-Principal (University Services), who established the Working Group last fall. “We will not rush into anything before we study this more thoroughly and get a broader sounding of the views of our community. The safety of the members of our community will always be our top priority.
“I am glad that the Working Group identified safety as its most important criterion for any recommended solutions it would put forward.”
The issue of cycling on campus has prompted several discussions at McGill, ever since the lower downtown campus became officially “car free” (except for trade and delivery vehicles) in 2010.
Couvrette said he will begin working very soon on the makeup of the research group that will gather data over the course of the academic year.
To read the full report, go here.